European (and especially French) fans have been spoiled by Hello! Project the last few years: 2012 Buono! in Paris, 2013 °C-ute in Paris, 2014 °C-ute and Berryz Koubou in Paris, 2016 °C-ute again in Paris and 2017 Juice=Juice (at three locations!, including Paris of course, but also London and Dortmund). Now, 2018, ANGERME joined the list of Paris concerts. The concert was to take place on June 3, a Sunday.
My own first H!P concert was the Dortmund one in 2017. Having had so much fun and made so many new friends who all loved H!P it didn’t take long for me to decide I would go to France to see another H!P group. Tickets, hotel room and flights booked I took off to Paris on Saturday, June 2. Getting from the airport Charles de Gaulle to my destined metro station Pigalle was a bit difficult (for some reason ticket machines in France and Germany are very different) but didn’t take too long. For future references:
I arrived at terminal 2G, which seems to be the standard for short flights (the other flights I saw came from / went to other destinations in Germany and France). Outside of 2G you need to take a shuttle bus (for free) to the main terminal 2. There you can follow the directions to the train station, buy a ticket for 10,70€ (Billet Ile-de-France) and take the train to Paris Nord. Yeah, that’s Gare du Nord, I was also confused.
At Gare du Nord you have to look out not to walk into the wrong direction. I did, and it was a bit bothersome since the metro station (which runs under the name La Chapelle by the way) was on the direct opposite end. Once you reached the metro station however it’s easy, you hop off at Pigalle – or Anvers, they aren’t too far from each other – depending on your hotel, of course. Ours was close to La Cigale so that was a plus.
Someone wrote on Facebook that the area around La Cigale wasn’t the safest. Generally you have to watch out for pickpockets but I think that’s the case for most bigger European cities. I should also mention that the Moulin Rouge as well as some sex shops (no brothels, but cinemas and shops for… playing) are rather close to it, so don’t be shocked haha. Overall I didn’t feel vulnerable in that area, maybe a bit during the night (when we came back from the afterparty) but during the day there’s many people on the streets.
That being said, we were all tired and went to bad rather early – we had to line up for our numbered wristbands at 10:30 the other day after all! We wanted to be there at around 10, not caring too much about where we’d gonna end up – and I made the mistake to check Facebook: Some people were already lining up and camping in front of La Cigale. They were doing the exact same thing the organisers told us not to do.
If you’ve been to European concerts for H!P you probably know these people. A bunch of French guys who pride themselves on always standing in first row during concerts, snatching places from smaller fans and in general really icky people. I don’t want to repeat everything here but some of them were harassing others and stuff like „f you we were here first f the rules“ was said. As said, we didn’t care too much about where we’d be standing but I did feel bad just reading their reactions.
The next morning we were surprised about how smoothly the numbered wristband system actually went. Apparently there was some drama about some people organising a line the night before (not those I was complaining about but some people who wanted to keep the damage in check) and in the end these numbers differed greatly for some people – some were #60-something the night before and ended up with a number way past the one hundreds. I mean, that’s what you get for organising non-official stuff. In the end the staff actually thanked these people, but well. We went off to do some sight-seeing and came back at around 6pm. I know that’s also late, since we were supposed to come back and line up at 4:30pm, but let’s be honest: That would have been way too early. In the end we found our spots, everybody was nice and let us in because, hey, these were our numbers, and that’s it. We stood in line and waited for the doors to open. Here I have to mention that I had a regular ticket and had to be seperated from my friends who had premium tickets, but in the end the experience was amazing for me – and not so great for my friends.
We lined up on the little avenue between the streets, but ended up blocking the shops on the site of La Cigale again (as fans did the years before). The shop owners were quite angry but didn’t do anything, fortunately. What I found weird was that regular tickets were allowed in just after the last premium ticket user got in. In the end I was told that the handshake was incredibly rushed – my friends were pushed through the line by staff, even the members of ANGERME seemed shocked – and there were at least two people who did not even get a handshake. That was the case for those that lined up for the goods before going to the handshakes. Those that went to the handshakes before the goods didn’t get anything except for the T-shirt and towel – the photoset, pin and necklace were already sold out.
I was already down to just buying the towel so it didn’t matter that much to me but there should be enough merchandise, at least for all premium ticket users. I’ve also heard of people buying 10 sets and more of the photographs – just limit them to 2 per person and we’re fine.
Getting in was easy though. The main hall was only filled half, many people stood at the sides or went upstairs to the seats. I went up as well; I was sitting first row at one side and could see everything. The only disadvantage was that most girls did not make eye contact with the loge, only those sitting next to the stage were to be noticed. However I had enough space to jump around and dance and that was the most important thing.
The opening group, the winner of a contest, were amazing. They did the best to fire up the audience and succeeded with Oh my wish! and Sakura Night Fever. Their costumes were professional looking and their energy was amazing.
The setlist of the actual concert was a bit lacking. Personally I would have loved at least one S/mileage song. The encore was also… weird. Uraha=Lover is a great song but not exactly good for encores. Another downside was that Kamikokuryo Moe and Sasaki Rikako weren’t on stage for the encore. Apparently they were badly dehydrated and one of them even fainted. You could really see it with Sasaki: She started out as her usual energetic self and got slower and more tired towards the end. La Cigale was madly hot even for us in the audience, I don’t know how bad it was underneath the spotlights. Apparently there was some aircon but you honestly couldn’t feel it.
The girls, however, did their best. Wada Ayaka was of course incredible, but everyone was great. Nobody sticks out in this group. Hell, even Katsuta Rina smiled and looked like she was having fun.
Afterwards we went to get some food and just… dry a bit. We were soaked from all the sweating. We did go to the afterparty but ended up only drinking a few beers. The location was just too narrow to actually dance etc., and after sweating so much in La Cigale it was also way too hot again. However the overall mood was nice, we had the chance to talk to other friends and I was introduced to people that I didn’t know yet.
The next day we left early to get our planes back. The biggest problem was buying a ticket from Gare du Nord to Charles de Gaulle. At the metro station (Pigalle) you could only buy metro tickets – the one to Gare du Nord. After panicking and nearly crying (we were on a tight schedule afterall) some staff helped me to buy my ticket to the airport. Apparently you have to leave the train station and buy the ticket outside. You need to go to the Billet Ile-de-France ticket machines again. Set your train station as Gare du Nord (or… Paris Nord, I don’t remember). This was where I went wrong, in Germany you only set the train station to the one that you were going to, and I couldn’t buy any ticket after tiping out ‚Charles de Gaulle‘. Well, staff helped me in the end, I payed my 10,70€ and managed to get to the airport safely. From the on everything was easy, I arrived at Düsseldorf Airport at around 3pm and took a long nap once I got home.
Summarizing it was a great experience. I still think the Juice=Juice concert last year was better, but I was also standing 2nd row for that one and less people meant less work for staff. I am a bit disappointed with staff. They were only speaking French with us and the whole mess with the merchandise and the rushed handshake are a no-go. The organisation with the wristband was also a bit unfortunate since they only announced this system one or two weeks before the concerts – some people had already planned (and booked tickets) to arrive during noon or later, way too late for the wristband organisation. There’s always some people who misbehave, and since they are well known in the community I’d wish staff would actually tell them off one day.
Overall, however, I hope for more H!P concerts in Europe and hope Up-Front are not too taken aback about the bad organisation during the handshakes and the fact that the aircon didn’t work in La Cigale, causing two members to sit out for the encore.